Flemish

Harpsichord after J. Couchet, 1679

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Length: 188 cm
  • Width: 74,5 cm
  • Compass: C-c3, 49 notes
  • Disposition: 8’, 4’, 8’
  • Pitch: A=415-440 Hz

The Couchet 1679 is a beautiful and very small instrument with a chromatic-bass 4 octave compass and a disposition of 8’, 4’, 8’ on two choirs of strings, with the two 8’ plucking the same string. Despite its very small size this harpsichord has an incredibly clear, round and powerful sound from the first note in the bass to the last in the treble.

The nice keyboard has bone naturals and cherry accidentals, and all the measurements such as balance point distance, key length and width have been copied from the original.

The basic version comes with a painted (one colour) case and varnished wood inside.

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Single Flemish ravalement

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length: 196 cm
  • Width: 85 cm
  • Compass: GG/AA-e3
  • Disposition: 2×8’, buff stop
  • Pitch: A=415-440 Hz

The design of this single Flemish comes from the 1679 Couchet, and actually the bridge and nut position and shape, c2 length and plucking point have been left unaltered. In order to have a higher number of keys and not make the instrument too wide, I’ve reduced slightly the spacing between the strings and the width of the single keys, and modified the length and width of the case. This ravalement has a compass of GG/AA-e3 with two 8’and a pitch of A=415-440.

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Double Flemish ravalement

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Length: 230cm
  • Compass: GG-e3 or FF/GG-f3
  • Disposition: 8’, 4’, 8’ and buff stop
  • Transposition: A=392-415-440 Hz

It seems that all the Ruckers doubles had the two keyboards at a distance of a fourth between each other. They actually were transposing harpsichords. Late in the XVIII century, especially in France, the two keyboards were aligned and the range extended, giving also them the possibility of being coupled. This process is known as Ravalement.

The original Ruckers 1638, today at the Russel Collection in Edinburgh, is the only surviving two manuals harpsichord from the Ruckers family with its keyboards in the original condition.
I personally designed  my own ravalement of this harpsichord enlarging the compass to GG-e3 (or FF/GG-f3), aligning the two keyboards and giving them a coupler mechanism. and a typical XVIII century disposition (8’, 4’, 8’).

The instrument in its basic version comes with a painted (one colour) case with golden frames and the inside of case and lid decorated with Flemish paper.

Double Flemish ravalement dogleg

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Length: 230cm
  • Width: 91cm
  • Compass: GG-e3 or FF/GG-f3
  • Disposition: 4’, 8’, 8’ and buff stop
  • Transposition: A=392-415-440

I also developed a version of the double Flemish ravalement with dogleg action, where the lower manual slides in to couple. The disposition is 4’, 8’, 8’ and buff stop, with 4’ and 8’ on the lower manual, and the short 8’ on the upper. The action of this instrument is incredibly precise and light, and the balance point of the key lever has been calculated after the study of many Flemish keyboards, in order to reproduce that kind of touch. The dogleg avoids the extra weight that on the typical French shove coupler goes on the lower keys when the two keyboard are coupled.

Double manual after J. Ruckers, 1624

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Length: 224cm
  • Width: 76cm
  • Compass: GG/AA-d3
  • Disposition: 4’, 8’, 8’ and buff stop
  • Transposition: A=392-415 or 415-440

This is the most copied of Flemish double ravalement harpsichords. The original, made by Johannes Ruckers in 1624 and enlarged (petit ravalement) at the end of the 17th century in France, is now at the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar. The sound of this harpsichord is incredibly deep, round and pure and it sings in all registers.

It has a compass of GG-d3, without the low GG#. And its case is quite narrow, measuring just 76cm, making it easy to transport and lighter. The transposing version has a slightly wider case (80cm) in order to allow the keyboards to shift one semitone higher or lower.

Bentside spinet

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Length: 165cm
  • Compass: GG-d3
  • Disposition:  8’
  • Transposition: A=392-415 or 415-440

This very small instrument has an interesting dark and deep sound, loud enough to be used with a small ensemble, keeping its nice and round colour. The full four and a half octave compass and the light and precise action make it possible to use it also for a quite wide solo repertoire. It’s really easy to transport, and the three legs are screwed under the bottom of the instrument.

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